Family History Research

NGS Home Study Course Thoughts

Since last December-ish I have been working on the NGS HSC graded version. My goal was to learn some things I didn’t know, brush up on things I did and in the end, earn a certificate. I thought it was an affordable way to expand my genealogical education. If I had it to do over I think I would save my money and find another educational opportunity.

Why, you ask?

While I do not mind independent study courses, this is a little too independent for me. There have been a few instances where I emailed a grader of my assignments only to not have my specific questions answered. Asking questions again still went unanswered. And the grader was not very kind in the responses.

In a lesson on census I was supposed to list everyone on page one of my pedigree chart and all the census years in which they could be found. I listed each person and under those who were immigrants, specifically noted the year they immigrated. The grader chose to ignore this and berated me for not including all the censuses for those people’s life time. Well, if my great grandfather immigrated in 1904, he certainly will not be found on the 1900 census will he? Or because he was simply alive I should have included the 1900 on the list even though he didn’t live in the U.S.? That isn’t competent research.

Today I got a lesson back marked complete on military records. The lesson said to choose a grandfather. A grandfather, not list every male in my pedigree chart. Then list the grandfather’s known ancestors and all the wars they may have served in starting with the Revolutionary War to WWII. Well, I had two grandfathers. Jerry who immigrated in 1925 and could have served in WWII. Jerry’s father died in Bohemia. The End.The other grandpa Joseph was listed. I also listed his father and said specifically that he immigrated in 1904 so he could have served in WWI. He died in 1930.

The grader said in my comments that it she didn’t believe I had no other male ancestors in the country during that time period. But she would give me the benefit of the doubt that I had listed them all. I sent a note to the course administrator who forwarded it to the grader. I asked if I didn’t complete that part of the assignment correctly because it said to choose a grandfather. Not every male. The grader responded apologizing saying I did complete it correctly and that she should read the assignment directions before grading.

WHAT? I have never had the same grader twice. So don’t they focus on one set of the lessons? How could you NOT understand the instructions if you are responsible for grading one specific lesson over and over?

I get the feeling sometimes that those dealing with the NGS HSC don’t understand that not all of us have ancestors who have been here since the Mayflower. That some of us have shallow roots in this country. And I really feel they do not provide enough feedback or answer questions like they should.

I have many years of research experience but it concerns me that those who are just starting out or have only a few years under their belt are not getting the full experience they should. They are not being provided with enough feedback. So how are they supposed to fully learn? And how can you learn if your questions are not being answered?

I will finish the HSC as I only have five lessons left. I have learned a lot and do not regret taking the course. I just wish my experience had been a little better to this point.

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Military Monday – NGS HSC Lesson 14

I continue to work my way through the graded version of the NGS Home Study Course and am getting closer to reaching my goal of completing it by April 1, 2012. ProGen ends in April and my plan is to finish both and begin focusing on certification.

Today I submitted Lesson 14 on Military Records. I learned some new things about pre-Civil War records which is very helpful considering my newest clients have families that go back that far.

My assignments were to first choose one of my grandfathers and create a list of all wars he could have participated in during his lifetime. Then list all his known male ancestors and the wars they may have participated in during their lifetimes starting with the Revolutionary War and working forward. That part of my assignment was super short. My grandfather on my mom’s side was an immigrant and didn’t serve. I didn’t even list him. I listed my paternal grandfather who was a first generation Bohemian-American. He served in World War II in the Naval Armed Guard. His father was the immigrant and could have served in World War I. End of assignment one.  I have pretty short roots on most of my lines here in America.

Assignment two allowed me to compare and contrast a World War I Draft Registration Card to a World War II Card. I used my great grandfather, Joseph Kokoska for this assignment. The one big informational difference between the two cards was his address. Pretty much everything else, even his occupation and place of employment remained the same.

At this point I have six lessons left to complete. Lesson 6 on marriage and Lesson 10 on local land records I will partially finish next week and read those lessons. I need to visit repositories to complete one section of each lesson and will do that so I can submit both lessons by September 5 before I go to FGS.

I’m still transcribing the 1910 U.S. Census for Joseph Kokoska for lesson 11 and that is only one part of that assignment. My goal is to finish that by October 1 along with Lesson 7, Church Records.

Lesson 15, Kinship will take a while so my goal is December 1 submission. Then when I receive the word it is complete I’ll start Lesson 16, Biography which I plan to finish by April 1. If I reach my goal it will have taken me almost a year and a half to work through all three CDs.  Gosh time flies when you are having fun!

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Thriller Thursday – NGS HSC Land Assignment

Ok this really isn’t a thriller type post in the sense that I discovered something about one of my ancestors. But it is thrilling because I received my NGS Home Study Course Federal Land Records assignment in the mail and it was marked COMPLETE!! I am thrilled!!!

This is great news because I am finished with that lesson, I got great comments on it and I do not have to stop in Springfield, IL, at the archives on my way to Missouri next week. I can sleep in and head to my best friend’s house late morning.

This week I completed Lesson 8 on Probate and sent that in. Next month I plan to get to IRAD at NEIU and look at marriage records unless I decide just to use DuPage County instead since I’m at the courthouse every week anyway. We’ll see. Either way I have a plan to finish CDs 1 & 2 by the end of September. Would like to finish the 3rd by January but we’ll see how it goes. Stay tuned!

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Mappy Monday – NGS HSC Land Assignments

Well with two assignments left on the NGS HSC CD1, I ordered CD2. There are two assignments on land records I will need to complete. I was planning on heading to Springfield, IL, to research at the State Archives. I want some death certificates. Thought this would be a good time to also research and do these two land assignments.

One is on State and Federal Lands. I have to do a plat drawing based on a metes and bounds description provided. Then I have my choice of another assignment. Choice is probably not the best word because the assignment is based on whether or not I live in a federal-land state or state-land state. Illinois is a federal-land state so I’ll do that one. I have to survey land records at a repository – Illinois State Archives in this case, then write a report about it. I also have to provide copies of some of the records I find.

The other assignment is half done and I haven’t done anything. It is on land records and deeds. I have to visit a land office, in my case go back to the Chicago Recorder of Deed’s Office and ask them a few questions like what is the earliest record you have and what is it? A warranty deed, deed of trust, etc. Most of the other things I have to write about I already know because I have done research there.

The second part of this assignment is probably going to require me to get clarification, if NGS will provide any, on the assignment. They want you to visit a repository where there are deed indexes. The information states most indexes are by grantor and grantee so pick a surname and search that surname for a period of 10-15 years. Copy down all the entries for that surname from both grantor and grantee indexes. Well in Cook County, IL, the books are arranged by PIN/Legal Description as just the first step in a long process to locate and actually view the deed. Once you get to the book that shows the information for a piece of property it lists the grantor/grantee and all the other info they want. I will have to ask if it is ok to just use a piece of property to do this assignment since that’s how it is laid out in Cook County. The rest is easy – create a spreadsheet of the findings. Well I have already done that on a few pieces of property.

If NGS says I have to find a repository that has grantor and grantee index books then this will take a lot longer to complete.

I’ll keep you posted on how these assignments go. Should be interesting!

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